Africa Industrialisation: a topic that has been discussed far too long but no significant changes are observed. One may ask, “significant to whom and observed by who?” It has also become obvious that the topics for discussion usually revolve around: “Poverty, Unemployment, Quality of Education, Gender Equality, School dropouts, Early Marriage, Migration in search of “greener pastures” to mention but a few. These discussions are important, but if the same topics are repeatedly discussed, maybe we have reached the time that these issues are approached from a different angle.
A new approach may demand more resources and effort for execution; measuring results and adjusting as progress develop. This will allow Africa and developing countries to not only adapt to the global trends but compete and participate globally in businesses, technology, innovation, research, education amongst others. Because if Africa does not adjust accordingly, we might be discussing the same issues a decade from now.
But then again this brings us to the question: “Who is responsible for making things happen and who determines if Africa is ready to participate in the global arena of technology, innovation, research & education, amongst others?”
Some observations made at a discussion forum for the Africa Industrialisation Day 2017 include:
Increasing unemployment/poverty rates
There is a significant number of expatriates and foreign workers for instance from Europe, China and India making a good living in Africa. This is worrying due to the rising number of unemployed youth. The government and MNCs based in Africa need to reduce the number of expatriates occupying jobs that could otherwise be occupied by Africans, and this can only be done by putting in place proper Knowledge Transfer Systems and Rotational Programmes.
For Africa to fight unemployment/poverty, entrepreneurship education and nurturing entrepreneurial mindset from an early age is necessary.
Technology & Innovation
Innovation and creativity in Africa remain stunted. This is because of the youth in Africa being rewarded and encouraged to maintain the status quo; challenging the norm is not readily welcomed. This has led to lack of room and reward for innovation and creativity. For Africa to overcome this, instituting creativity and innovation into learning curriculum/education is necessary.
While literacy is the basis for any development, nowadays Digital Literacy is the key to success in the modern era where the world is heading towards robotics, autonomous driving, automation etc. For instance, in Agriculture in Africa, where traditional methods of farming are still prevalent which have proven to be futile for large-scale farmers. Utilizing land to its full potential, managing and running a big farm needs more than hard labour workers. And that is why technology and advanced digital literacy might be a necessity and not a luxury.
Business opportunities and competing in the global marketplace
Sourcing locally, hiring locally and providing world standard products and services is imperative. This can only be achieved through certifications, setting up accreditation bodies in Africa and packaging products to meet global market standards.
What Africa needs to ask itself
Are these expatriates better skilled than the locals? If so, where did they get educated or, better ask, which bodies gave them accreditation? If it is agreed by the employer and the government that the expatriates’ qualifications are superior to the locals’ qualifications, then perhaps changes need to be made to the University/College Curriculum. Bringing in expatriates for know-how and skills transfer does not solve the matter to improve ancient curriculum and low-level skills in the long run. The approach of knowledge and skills transfer demands high running costs.
“The solution to the issues observed at Africa Industrialisation Day 2017 event, does not come from hiring or relying on the most skilled, but by learning from the skilled and making sure that when they leave, Africa will be able to, if not improve, at least maintain the same standards in running businesses, innovation, technology, training, research and education.”
Aphropean Partners believes that both Africa and Europe have something to offer, and neither is superior nor inferior to the other. It is just a matter of learning and continuous improvement. We promote the interface between EU – Africa Relations, Business, Technology, Research and Education.
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Written by Edith Tollschein, Programme Manager